The Royal Stables at Meknes are a stunning reminder of a time long ago – when Sultan Moulay Ismail reigned over the country of Morocco – and loved 12,000 horses!
The Incredible Royal Stables at Meknes
Located an hour from Fes, Meknes is a gorgeous medieval city. Sultan Moulay Ismail was one of the most famous rulers of Morocco. He ruled from 1645 through 1727 and made Meknes his capital city. Over the years of his reign, his servants helped him transform the landscape of Meknes with beautiful architecture. One such marvel was his famous marble palace. Said to be completely magical in its glory, there were also darker stories about the palace – and the Sultan. One such rumor was that if a slave displeased the Sultan, he might end up buried inside the walls of the palace.
Unfortunately, the palace was largely destroyed in an earthquake in 1755. One of the only parts of the palace complex still remaining are the incredible Royal Stables at Meknes and the Royal Granaries. Despite their age and ruined condition, the Royal Stables and Granaries are a stunning example of the world that Sultan Moulay Ismail created during his time in power.
Sultan Ismail Loved Horses
Some say that Moulay Ismail loved horses so much, he treated them better than people. There is no doubt that the horses who resided in the Royal Stables at Meknes lived a life of luxury. At the time of Sultan Ismail’s rule, 10,000 to 12,000 horses lived in the Royal Stables. Each horse had a groom and a slave to see to its needs, and the stables were spotlessly clean. The royal horses drank fresh water provided by a canal running through the stables. And they ate from the grain stored in the immense granaries.
The Heri es Souani Granaries
The Royal Granaries are an architectural marvel to this very day. These stunning chambers are huge, with massive walls and small windows set ceiling-level. It was designed to ensure good airflow. Water chambers under the floor helped to keep things cool. The granaries not only held enough food for the 12,000 horses that might be in the stables at any given time. It actually stored enough grain to feed all those horses for up to 20 years. Yes. Twenty years. And with the brilliant architectural design, the grain was safe from rotting.
A Place Built For Royal Horses
Wandering the stables inspires awe. Everything is so large and impressive, even with the damage sustained from the earthquake. It is hard to imagine, but the stables may have been seven times larger than what exists today. That’s a lot of pampered horses – the life that every working equine in Morocco might dream about. And a few lucky horses still reside there now so that tourists can see the types of horses kept here by the Sultan.
The Royal Stables of Meknes are one of the most enduring symbols of the rule of Sultan Moulay Ismail. The Sultan ruled for 55 years, longer than any other Sultan of Morocco. He was laid to rest in the Mausoleum he had built while he was still alive – only two kilometers away from the stables that housed the horses he so loved.
If you’re interested in taking a tour of Meknes or somewhere else in Morocco, we’d love to talk with you. Contact us and we’ll be happy to help you bring your travel dreams to life!